I would like to thank you and your staff for going above and beyond to take steps to secure the safety of the students in all programs under the charter umbrella.
As a member of the Parent Advisory Committee, I have had the opportunity to see and work on the updated safety plan that covers all number of emergency situations if they were to arise at one of the schools.
A part of this safety plan that may not be immediately evident is the time and effort you and your staff have put into, not just securing the physical safety of our children, but into securing the emotional safety of our children.
Having small classrooms, a warm friendly staff, meaningful curriculum and an enthusiastic group of parent participants goes a long way to securing an emotionally safe school environment, but with the complexities of the world we live in confounded by the ever-unfolding problems of technology, screen time and social media, it is not enough.
Your efforts to secure a counselor, Jen Sims, and to have her work in each classroom helps provide students and staff with an understanding and appropriate vocabulary/context to deal with issues such as cyber-bullying, social media, and suicide and is a powerful component of the school safety program. Right now, Jen is focusing on having compassion. Her article in this week's bulletin called: "Let Compassion be the Bridge to Action" is packed with useful information and tools to help families better cope with the difficult issues we are faced with. Jen also recently facilitated a 15-hour training program and now, some of the high school students are certified Coast Redwood Peer Counselors capable of providing additional support to their peers. This is really exciting.
Here are some more ways you and your staff have taken steps to make emotional well being an integral part of the school’s safety plan:
- A school-wide effort to help students and parents manage social media such as this week’s section on "Homework Hygiene" from Tech Talk Tuesdays in the newsletter.
- Teachers committed to making time in their, already busy, classrooms to explicitly (and age appropriately) address these issues resulting from social media and screen time in their classrooms in a meaningful way as part of the curriculum.
- Last year’s showing of Screenagers, and the discussions that followed and this year’s joint showing with the SLVHS Cougar Club on 3/7 at pm in the PAC.
- Encouraging parents to attend the district-wide Triple P Parent Education Night: “Coping with Stress Workshop for Parents” held on 2/5.
- Encouraging parents to attend the SLVHS Cougar Club sponsored presentation by the National Alliance on Mental Health: ”Parents and Teachers as Allies" Thursday, on 2/15.
- Facilitating the upcoming Drug and Alcohol Advisory for 9th and 10th grade students on 2/23.
As schools and districts scramble to find solutions to the current challenges they are facing, especially the mass shootings occurring on campuses, and the idea of arming teachers is being seriously entertained as a possible solution, I am profoundly thankful to the administrators and staff at SLV Charter School who are already fully committed to, and actively engaged in, many activities and programs to promote the mental health and safety of their students. I am thankful not just as a parent who has a child in the charter, but also because I am a teacher myself and know how hard it can be to start and implement new programs at a school when we are already so busy trying to teach.
So, to you and your staff: THANK YOU for making the students' safety a priority and for having the foresight, vision and follow-through to put these innovative programs into action.